Thinking of Purchasing a Brownfield Site for Redevelopment? “AAI Before You Buy!”


Planning in Progress

by Sylvia A. Mosser, AICP, Resource Conservation Planner and Kristen E. Humphrey, MLA, Local Assistance and Training Planner 

“Well, ah’ll be a bon-a-fide prospective purchaser”

The phrase Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser (BFPP) may evoke images of a gold rush era prospector driving a covered wagon drawn by a pair of oxen, but in 2020, this antiquated-sounding term describes something quite different. 

A BFPP is a savvy buyer who has earned environmental liability protections by complying with the United States’ Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule before purchasing a property. The AAI Rule came about in response to the 2002 Brownfields Amendments to CERCLA, as a vehicle to “promulgate regulations establishing standards and practices for conducting” AAI.  

ASTM International Standards E1527-13 and E2247-16 (for forestlands and rural properties) were developed in response to the AAI Rule to advise environmental professionals (EPs) on properly evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for environmental contamination. The ASTM standards provide EPs a formulaic approach to complying with AAI, including the required components for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) report.  

Prospective purchasers of property—especially commercial, industrial, and agricultural properties with past operations that include the storage/usage of potential hazardous materials or petroleum products—should follow the rule of thumb “conduct AAI before you buy” to avoid potentially costly environmental investigation and remediation/cleanup liabilities. Depending on state environmental regulations, compliance with AAI may be all you need to earn liability protections.  Significantly, Maryland’s Department of the Environment defers to the federal AAI Rule.  

If you’re in the market for a potentially contaminated property/brownfield (note that many properties meet this definition and may surprise you, especially when the property’s history is unknown!), check out our  tips to becoming a Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser (see sidebar). 


For more information about brownfields in Maryland, contact Sylvia Mosser, Resource Conservation Planner, at sylvia.mosser@maryland.gov or (410) 767-4487.

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